Who’s a Good Candidate for Pediatric Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns can improve your child's oral health|Dental crowns save teeth

Using Dental Crowns to Restore Your Child’s Oral Health

Did you know that some animals go through multiple sets of teeth in their lives? Elephants cycle through six sets of molars, with their last set erupting in their forties, while sharks are famous for their ability to regenerate teeth constantly. Some sharks even develop a new set of teeth every two weeks!

Humans don’t share this adaptation, however, so we only get two sets of teeth: baby teeth and adult teeth. Adult teeth erupt between the ages of six and 21 years old, and they must last the rest of our lives. How do they manage this? The answer is twofold: dental enamel and great dental care! Dental enamel is the hardest known biological material, protecting teeth against injury and decay. It’s not indestructible, though, so teeth need to be cared for by practicing great oral hygiene, using them only for tasks they were meant to carry out (no opening plastic packaging or bottle caps with them!), and of course visiting the dentist regularly.

Thankfully, when accidents happen or severe decay damages a tooth, modern dentistry ensures that it doesn’t have to be the end for it! Dental crowns are often the key to saving severely damaged baby or adult teeth. But if your child does need a dental crown, it’s normal to find yourself with a lot of questions, including whether or not your child is a good candidate for them or how they would benefit from the treatment. We want this process to be as simple and stress-free as possible for you and your child, so we’ve put together a guide to help you understand the use of pediatric crowns better.

When are dental crowns necessary for kids?

Kids need dental crowns in very similar instances as adults. They’re used to restore the health, function, and appearance of teeth that have suffered severe damage from decay or injuries such as a major crack or break in a tooth. We get a lot of parents asking, “But does my child need dental crowns? After all, baby teeth are meant to fall out eventually, right?” The answer is that yes, kids need crowns on baby teeth! While baby teeth don’t stick around as long as adult teeth, they have jobs to do while they’re around that make them just as important as adult teeth.

Your child’s baby teeth help them eat and speak properly, but they also play a role in the development of your child’s adult teeth. Each baby tooth saves a spot for your child’s adult teeth and helps guide their adult teeth into place when they begin erupting, so losing a baby tooth early can lead to problems like overcrowding, impacted teeth, or teeth that come in crooked. These issues in turn can mean more dental treatments or more involved orthodontic treatments for your child in the long run. Saving your child’s baby tooth prevents this, so it’s the best option whenever possible. The only instance in which a crown might not be necessary is if the damaged baby tooth is very close to falling out naturally anyway.

What types of dental crowns are there?

Just like any other type of crown, pediatric crowns for baby teeth can be made from several different types of materials. The first type is a stainless steel crown, which is generally put on molars because, although the metal stands out in your child’s mouth, it is incredibly durable. This type of crown can trigger metal allergies, however, so it’s wise to make sure it won’t be a problem for your child first.

Composite strip crowns are a more aesthetically pleasing option for front teeth made of clear plastic material, but they’re vulnerable to breaking and are more difficult to place. Resin crowns are a good, low-cost option that can be tinted to match the color of your child’s natural teeth, but they’re less durable and don’t last as long as some options. This is generally okay for baby teeth, especially if your child is likely to lose the tooth naturally in a couple of years. These crowns don’t need to last decades like crowns for adult teeth do, though how long your child will need the crown to last depends upon their age and which tooth needs the crown.

Porcelain crowns, which are often used to make permanent crowns on adult teeth, are also an option for your little one. Porcelain crowns look natural and are durable enough to be placed on front or back teeth. With proper care, porcelain crowns can last for 15 years or more, so you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing your child’s crown. Because of their durability, flexibility, and natural appearance, however, they’re more expensive than other options. This means that they might not be the best choice if you know that your child’s tooth is likely to fall out naturally in the next few years. On the other hand, if your child is young and the tooth that needs a crown is one of the last baby teeth to fall out naturally, a porcelain crown might be worth considering. If you’re unsure which type of crown is best for your child, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist more specific questions about the materials we offer or which type they recommend in your child’s case.

What should we expect during the procedure?

Dental crowns generally take two visits to our office in order to place, but we go to great lengths to keep your child comfortable and calm throughout the treatment process. We work with kids on a daily basis and want this to be a positive overall experience for them, so we’re experts at helping your little one feel relaxed. Your child’s dentist in Omaha will begin by numbing the area so that they won’t feel anything during the procedure, but we can also administer nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, if necessary to keep them relaxed and calm. Your child’s dentist will treat any decay in their tooth and prepare it by shaping the sides and top of the tooth so that a crown will be able to fit over it. We’ll then take molds of your child’s tooth and place a temporary crown that will protect it while their permanent crown is being milled in an outside lab. This will likely take a couple of weeks, after which you will return to our office.

During your child’s second appointment, the dentist will numb their mouth again, remove their temporary crown, and replace it with their permanent one. We’ll check your child’s bite carefully to ensure that the crown fits well and feels comfortable before securing it more fully in place and sending you home with care instructions. After each procedure, you’ll simply need to monitor your child while the numbness wears off to ensure they don’t bite their lips or cheeks and help them feel special for doing such a good job!

Keeping your child’s baby teeth healthy helps their adult teeth start out on the right foot—and sometimes that means using pediatric crowns to protect damaged teeth! They help ensure that your child’s baby teeth can fulfill their purpose, ensuring that your child’s adult teeth erupt straighter and more evenly spaced. If you have any questions about pediatric crowns or need to schedule a visit at an emergency dental Omaha office, feel free to call our office to schedule an appointment at any time!